Turkey detains 91, including politicians, journalists, over Syria comments

Turkish anti riot police officers block People' Democracy Party's (HDP) headquarter as HDP members call a protest against Turkey's "Olive Branch" operation in Syria on January 21, 2018 in Diyarbakir. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
0

Turkey detains 91, including politicians, journalists, over Syria comments

ISTANBUL: Turkey arrested dozens of people overnight for “spreading terrorist propaganda” about its Syrian incursion, state media said on Tuesday, raising to nearly 100 the number of such detainees, including politicians, journalists and activists.
The latest police raids focused on the western province of Izmir, but people have been detained across Turkey over their social media posts since Operation Olive Branch began in Syria’s Afrin region at the weekend, state-run Anadolu agency said.
The incursion targets the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG, viewed by Ankara as a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984.
Among those detained were the provincial heads in the cities of Izmir and Aydin of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second biggest opposition party in parliament. Ankara accuses the HDP of being linked to the PKK, a charge it denies.
HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen named four journalists among those arrested in the investigation into social media postings. He said the probe was targeting “those who side with peace.”
“Journalists are having their doors rammed down without anyone knocking and they are being detained as if there were an army or ammunition inside,” he told a news conference.
“This shows how people are afraid of keyboards, pens, words and writing,” he said.
“BLACK PROPAGANDA“
Anadolu said 91 people had been detained so far in raids against “black propaganda” across 13 provinces, with 17 detained in southeast Turkey’s Diyarbakir province. Three of the detainees have been remanded in custody pending trial, it added.
Six of the 23 suspects arrested in Izmir were accused of spreading propaganda on the streets, which amounted to “harassing people,” the agency said, adding that they were planning to hold a protest in a park.
Among the detainees was Leyla Guven, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish NGO Democratic Society Congress, said HDP lawmaker Bedia Ozgokce Ertan, adding that other HDP officials and senior members of the IHD human rights association were also held.
Ankara has enforced a crackdown since a failed coup in 2016 that critics say has unjustly targeted pro-Kurdish politicians. Some HDP lawmakers have been jailed on terrorism charges, which they deny.
In total, more than 50,000 people have been jailed and face trial since the attempted putsch and 150,000 have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. The government says the moves were necessary given the security threats Turkey faces.
On Monday, authorities in the capital Ankara banned all rallies, protests, meetings and concerts in the city for as long as the Afrin operation in Syria continues.


Saudi Arabia's KSRelief says blast kills 5 foreign demining experts in Yemen

Updated 16 min 26 sec ago
0

Saudi Arabia's KSRelief says blast kills 5 foreign demining experts in Yemen

SANAA: A Saudi demining group says five of its international experts have been killed by an accidental explosion in Yemen while transporting mines and explosives to be destroyed.
The MASAM Demining Project said Monday that two South Africans, a Croatian, a Bosnian and a Kosovar were killed a day earlier while transporting the material in the central Marib province to a remote location where it could be safely detonated. It says a British national was wounded.
The project, part of the Saudi King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), began last year and seeks to remove unexploded ordnance from Yemen.
MASAM says the experts “lost their lives while attempting to bring safety and security to the Yemeni people, and their service to mankind will not be forgotten.”


This comes as Yemeni security officials say UN envoy Martin Griffiths has arrived in the capital, Sanaa, on an unannounced visit to discuss the “complex situation” in and around the coastal city of Hodeidah, where Yemen’s warring parties agreed to a cease-fire last month and agreed on a prisoner exchange that has yet to take place.
Also under discussion from Monday will be disagreements between the Houthi militia, who hold Hodeidah, and Retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, who is heading a UN mission charged with monitoring the cease-fire.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed terrorist group. An Arab coalition allied with the internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The officials spoke anonymously as they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.
Meanwhile, the coordination cell at the Advanced Operations Center in Hodeidah identified 688 violations committed by the Houthi militia since the cease-fire took effect on Dec. 18.
A cell report published by the Yemeni News Agency said that these violations committed by the Houthis led to the killing of 48 citizens and 362 others wounded, some with serious injuries.
A military source in the committee pointed out that the Houthi violations continue with various types of weapons, which target civilian houses, public places and army positions.
The source stressed that the militia continues to strengthen its defensive positions by planting mines and digging trenches and land passages at the entrances to the city and the main sites.
The source pointed out that the Iran-backed militia aims to provoke the forces of the Yemeni National Army and the Arab coalition through these increasing violations, in a clear intent to thwart the Stockholm cease-fire agreement.
The source called on the office of the UN envoy to take the necessary and serious measures to pressure the Houthi militia to immediately stop these violations and abide by the UN-led agreement on Hodeidah.